African Culture

The African culture has its roots in the early ages. However, it remained disintegrated for a pretty much time. The historians in the recent times have started to put it in an organized way to portray the true history of the old continent. However, it is a difficult task to put the pieces of the puzzles together as most of the African societies had a verbal account of their culture and traditions. Almost nothing was written down as most of those societies lacked a written language. Thus the accounts of the history were passed on as story telling from old to young. However, a few tribes, like the Foumban dynasty of Cameroon developed a unique written language of their own. It is from these early accounts that we come to know about the glorious history of Africa.


Africa, being a huge continent, has a vast array of cuisines brought together from its various corners. However, they reflect the local influences as well as the colonial traditions of peppers, peanuts and maize.

The African cuisine is consisted of traditional fruits, vegetables, milk and meat products. The villagers are particularly fond of a diet of milk, curds and whey. Starch is mainly the focus along with stew of meat or vegetables. The main root vegetables that are eaten are cassava and yams. Steamed greens peas, beans and cereals, starchy cassava, yams and sweet potatoes prepared with hot spices are also favorite among the Africans.

However, as Africa is a vast continent, there are differences across the continent of Africa when it comes to food habits. While the people in Nigeria and coastal parts of West Africa are accustomed to having lots of chilies in their food, the non-Muslim population of Africa are fond of alcoholic beverages in particular. Tej is a familiar Ethiopian honey wine in the interior Africa.

Fish and meat, and dry fish are widely eaten. There are also considerable influences of different parts of the world in African cuisine, like, India (lentil soups), Malay (spicy curries), Europe (mixed grills) etc.

In East African cuisine, meat and meat products are rarely to be seen as cattle, sheep and goats are traded as a currency there and are not generally consumed.


The African clothing has a lot of traditions and cultures associated with it. However, nowadays the clothing style of the African people reflects a clear western influence. In Egypt, the style has been influenced by Middle Eastern culture, like the Jellabiya which are popular in the Gulf States.

The Northwest Africans are not very much influenced by the foreign elements and still hold on to their traditions of vibrantly colored Djellaba which are like Grand boubou, the Dashiki, and the Senegalese kaftan worn in the Sahelian Africa.

The Dashiki has an ornate V-shaped collar while the Grand boubou is simpler. The Tuareg have their own culture of beautifully dyed indigo robes.

The traditional dress in east Africa is the Kanzu while the women dress themselves up in the Kanga and the Gomesi. In the southern African region, the Madiba shirts are popular. Zimbabwe has its Safari shirts.

In Somalia, khameez with a small cap called a koofiyad are worn by the man whereas in Ethiopia, the dresses that are worn by the men are the Ethiopian dashiki; the women wear the Ethiopian coffee dress


The African traditions manifest itself through different art forms, such as music, dance, art, sculpture and beadwork that reflect the richness of the African culture. Music and dances are regarded as not only the parts of the culture, but also as a way of communication. Be it marriage, birth, rites of passage, hunting and even political activities, it is regarded an integral part of the celebration and to ward off the evil and welcome the good spirits.

Musical instruments are also a very important part of the culture. The African drum is regarded as the “heartbeat of the community” and is cherished as the most celebrated musical instrument.

The Africans also do have the unique traditions of the masks with religious, ceremonial and functional significances.


Some important festivals and events celebrated across Africa are:

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